Rescue dog’s journey from stray to saviour

Article by James Gallagher, Health and science reporter, BBC News website:


Katie’s start was as rough as they get. She spent a year as a stray in the Irish countryside and was seriously emaciated by the time she was rescued.

But now Katie is making a huge difference to people recovering from injuries in hospital.

They get better faster, out of hospital sooner and are less likely to need social care, according to the team at Barnet, Enfield and Haringey Mental Health NHS Trust in London.

So how is she doing it? And should every hospital have a pet pooch?

The first thing you notice is Katie is like a glamorous celebrity.

When she walks on to the ward at St Michael’s Primary Care Centre in London, the patients only have eyes for her.

Everyone here is having occupational and physiotherapy to help them deal with fractures, surgery, early stages of dementia or multiple sclerosis.

The sessions are aimed at increasing their range of movement – how far they can walk, how many steps they can make, how far they can reach.

KathleenKathleen is being helped to get back on her feet after breaking three bones

Kathleen Edwards is a charismatic 92-and-a-half-year-old with nerve damage and numbness in her feet.

She tripped and broke three bones. “I didn’t enjoy myself at all,” she told me.

When she’s not craftily sneaking mints to Katie – “she loves them” – Kathleen’s sessions are aimed at getting her on her feet again.

She said: “I just did some walking, and she [Katie] walked with me, she makes me feel quite happy, it’s just fun.

“She’s a beauty she really is, I just love her, we never had dogs, and she makes you feel ‘Aah.’

“I shall want to take her home.”

MartinMartin Ross strokes and brushes Katie to help his stroke recovery

Katie has a similar effect on Martin Ross, 58, who is regaining movement after a stroke.

His sessions are aimed at arm movement and reaching down, which will eventually help with putting on socks and shoes.

His sessions involve stroking and brushing Katie.

He said other recovery clinics were “more like work, and this isn’t as you’re actually enjoying yourself”.

He said: “I was stretching a lot more and not even realising what I was doing and just enjoying time with the dog.

“Spending time with Katie makes you happy.”

Kathleen and Martin illustrate the two main benefits Katie brings – she makes people happy, more social and makes them push themselves further.

Kavita Shastri, Sarah Hodges and Marianne Welsh with Katie the dogKatie is helping occupational therapists help their patients

Marianne Welsh, senior occupational therapist, said: “It’s lovely, we see a lot of physical improvements, but also you can see she lifts the mood.

“Rehab is hard for our patients, they’ve got pain and often anxieties about not being at home or they’re fearful for the future.

“She enables them to progress without realising, so they’ll spend more time reaching forward, bending down further, mobilising further because they’re focused on Katie.”

And this is important – recovering the movements that let them get washed, dressed, out of bed or go to the toilet allows people to live independently.

“That helps us reduce the referrals to social services for care,” said Marianne, who is also Katie’s owner.

Katie had needed a lot of tender loving care herself after she had first been rescued, but had also been a “very adoptable dog”, Marianne said.

And she had immediately thought Katie had the temperament to train for Pets as Therapy.

It’s a long journey from being a stray in Ireland and “when the patients hear her history, there’s a bit of an affinity there”, Marianne added.


The personal experience of the medical staff suggests Katie is helping.

“Pet-assisted therapy has made a huge difference in trying to get patients out of hospital,” said Kavita Shastri, a senior physical therapist.

The clinic has been interviewing patients, and their answers also suggest having Katie around is boosting their recovery.

But what is still lacking is concrete scientific proof.

Kavita told me: “It’s unfortunate that the research around this is not that huge.

“Unfortunately in the UK there’s not a lot of randomised clinical trials and specific research to objectify this and I think that’s what’s really required.”

But at St Michael’s Primary Care Centre at least, they’re all convinced dogs could have a big role in NHS care.

Article taken from: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-39383868


Jumpers are knitted for ‘discriminated-against’ unwanted dogs

Dog in knitted jumperSpringer spaniel Barney is one of the dogs to receive a new jumper

Jumpers are being knitted for “discriminated-against” dogs that an animal welfare charity finds among the hardest to rehome.

Dogs with dark-coloured coats are being overlooked at Scottish SPCA centres in Inverness and Caithness.

It is thought the dogs’ features do not show as well in photograph appeals for new homes as lighter-coated pooches.

Scottish Women’s Institute groups, including those in Aberdeenshire, have been knitting the eye-catching jumpers.

The knitting effort forms part of celebrations marking 100 years of the SWI.

SWI member Winnie Anderson and BarneyImage SWI member Winnie Anderson and Barney

Dogs in the care of the SSPCA at Drumoak, near Banchory, were among the first to get the colourful overcoats, designed to draw greater attention to the animals.

The SSPCA describes the problem of rehoming dark-coated dogs as Black Dog Syndrome.

The charity said that, in photographs, the dogs’ features and personalities do not show up as they do for dogs with lighter coats.

SSPCA superintendent Sharon Comrie said: “This syndrome really does affect the adoption of animals in our care and, through no fault of their own, black dogs are almost always the last to find new homes.

“It’s a really creative idea to knit coloured jackets to show these dogs off to their best advantage.

Dog in knitted jumperImage Lurcher cross Archie sporting a colourful woolly overcoat

“Knowing that the SWI has members in every part of Scotland, many of whom are extremely dextrous when it comes to traditional crafts, means that we’ll hopefully be able to help animals in the nine rescue and rehoming centres we operate in Scotland.

“Knitted jackets will be ideal because they will be soft on the skin, have an element of give and stretch, and can be created in any, or many, colours of wool.”

SWI national chairwoman Christine Hutton said: “Some of Scotland’s top craftswomen are making multi-coloured dog coats in aid of homeless pets desperately seeking loving new homes – to boost their appeal and help them become rehomed more quickly.”

Dog jumping
It is hoped that the knitting project draws attention to overlooked dogs

Article taken from: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-highlands-islands-38990968


Tough new laws will ban the sale of puppies under eight weeks old

The sale of puppies under eight weeks old is to be made illegal under plans to crack down on so-called backstreet breeders and puppy farms.
Anyone breeding and selling three or more litters of puppies a year will have to apply for a formal licence under tougher rules announced by Environment Secretary Andrea Leadsom.

Smaller breeders as well as commercial breeders will have to meet a “strict welfare criteria” and those who sell pets on the internet will be subject to the same licensing regulations.


Breeders who break the rules face an unlimited fine and up to six months in prison. Ms Leadsom said: “Everyone who owns a pet or is looking to introduce one into their life will want to know that the animal has had the very best start to life.

“Yet for thousands of puppies born each year to irresponsible breeders, from smaller operations to larger puppy farms, their first weeks are spent in cramped and squalid conditions without the care and attention they need.

“That is why we are cracking down on the worst offenders by strengthening the dog breeding licence and giving councils the power they need to take action.”

Battersea Dogs & Cats Home praised the plans as a “welcome first step”. The charity’s chief executive Claire Horton said: “It’s high time we put a stop to the many undercover backstreet breeders and large-scale puppy farmers that profit from their cruel treatment of these animals.

“No puppy should start its life in cramped, squalid surroundings, before being torn away from their mother at a few weeks old.

“So many owners buying their new pet would be horrified to know that this was indeed the case.”

Battersea Dogs Home 
 Battersea Dogs & Cats Home (pictured) welcomes the new law CREDIT: LEON NEAL /GETTY

Kennel Club secretary Caroline Kisko said: “We are pleased that Defra will be taking forward proposals to ban the sale of puppies under the age of eight weeks by commercial third parties.

“We have called for a ban on third party sales, and refuse to register puppies being sold to third parties, but this new rule is a step in the right direction.

“We also welcome the requirement for pet sellers to provide written information about the animals they sell and for those who sell pets online to display their licence number.”

Article taken from: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/02/02/tough-new-laws-will-ban-sale-puppies-eight-weeks-old/


New plans to crack down on backstreet puppy breeders

Proposals include reducing the number of litters a breeder can produce without a licence to improve pet welfare standards


Tougher dog breeding licensing rules to better protect thousands of puppies are to be introduced as part of a swathe of reforms to safeguard the welfare of Britain’s pets, Environment Secretary Andrea Leadsom announced today.

The plans to tighten up laws around selling pets and breeding dogs will make it completely illegal to sell puppies younger than eight weeks and require anyone breeding and selling three or more litters of puppies a year to apply for a formal licence. Irresponsible breeders who don’t stick to these rules face an unlimited fine and/or up to six months in prison.

The new rules will mean smaller establishments – sometimes called ‘backstreet breeders’ – which supply thousands of dogs to families each year, as well as larger commercial breeders, must meet strict welfare criteria to get a licence. Irresponsible breeders can neglect the health and welfare of the puppies they raise and may not properly vaccinate them, leading to steep vets’ bills and heartbreak for buyers.

The rules will also be updated and made fit for the modern age with anyone trading commercially in pets online needing to be properly licensed, to help make reputable sellers easily accessible to prospective buyers.

The plans also cover how pet shops, boarding houses and riding stables are licensed, introducing a single ‘animal activities licence’ to improve the process and make enforcement easier.

Environment Secretary Andrea Leadsom said:

Everyone who owns a pet or is looking to introduce one into their life will want to know that the animal has had the very best start to life. Yet for thousands of puppies born each year to irresponsible breeders, from smaller operations to larger puppy farms, their first weeks are spent in cramped and squalid conditions without the care and attention they need. That is why we are cracking down on the worst offenders by strengthening the dog breeding licence and giving councils the power they need to take action.

With more and more pet sales now taking place on the internet, it’s right that this market is subject to the same strict licensing criteria as other breeders and pet shops so that consumers are not misled. The plans announced today will help people choosing new family pets to be confident the animals have been properly bred and cared for from birth and are ready to move safely to their new homes.

Under the new plans, pet shops will also be required to give buyers written information about the animals they buy, with details of the five welfare needs owners must meet under the Animal Welfare Act around environment, diet, behaviour, housing and freedom from pain. This advice is particularly important when buying exotic pets, which can have very specific welfare needs.

Welcoming the plans, Dogs Trust Veterinary Director, Paula Boyden, said:

As the UK’s largest dog welfare charity, Dogs Trust welcomes the Government’s review of animal establishments licensing in England and the range of measures it sets out.

We are particularly pleased that it will be illegal to sell a puppy below the age of 8 weeks and that there will be tighter licensing rules which will require sellers of pets to display their licence when advertising. We also applaud the move towards a risk based single licensing system which will incorporate those breeders that have gained UKAS approval rather than exempting them.

We believe that Local Authority Inspectors need support to enforce these tighter licensing rules. As such, moves to mandate the use of Model Conditions and for inspectors to be offered training and standards to be set is most welcome.

Caroline Kisko, Kennel Club Secretary said:

We are pleased that Defra will be taking forward proposals to ban the sale of puppies under the age of 8 weeks by commercial third parties; we have called for a ban on third party sales, and refuse to register puppies being sold to third parties, but this new rule is a step in the right direction. We also welcome the requirement for pet sellers to provide written information about the animals they sell and for those who sell pets online to display their licence number.

As the litter licensing threshold is set to reduce from five litters to three we look forward to working with Defra on the new risk based licensing system, to ensure that UKAS accredited Assured Breeder Scheme (ABS) members will continue to be inspected by the Kennel Club for the maximum licence length of three years. This will incentivise more breeders to join the scheme, and breed to a higher standard of welfare that the ABS requires, and reduce the inspection burden on local authorities.

Pet owners are also being urged to make sure their pet’s microchip details are up to date. Latest figures show 94% of dogs have been fitted with microchips, nine months after the Government introduced a law requiring all dogs to be painlessly fitted with a chip containing their owner’s details. But a Battersea Dogs and Cats Home study of stray dogs last year found that only 20% of their microchips contained up to date information.

It’s vital that owners who move house or change their phone number make sure they keep their pet’s details up to date, so they can be reunited should their four-legged friend ever go missing. Owners can check with their microchip provider that their details are correct.

Andrea Leadsom added:

It is absolutely critical that owners not only make sure their pet is microchipped, but that they also make sure details are kept up to date so they can be reunited if their pet is lost or stolen.

It is excellent to see that so many owners have taken action to get their dogs chipped, yet all too many still need to be rehomed because the owner hasn’t updated their details—heart-breaking for the owner and the dog, and easily avoidable with a five-minute phone call.

Article taken from: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/new-plans-to-crack-down-on-backstreet-puppy-breeders


Puppy recovering after swallowing kitchen knife

Macie with knife and vet Emily RonaldMacie, who is now almost 15 weeks old, is recovering at home

A puppy who swallowed an 8in (20cm) kitchen knife is recovering after undergoing life-saving surgery.

Twelve-week-old Staffordshire bull terrier Macie was rushed to the emergency vet after she began choking.

Her owner thought she had eaten a toy but X-rays revealed a knife, with the handle lodged in her intestines and the tip of the blade in her gullet.

The PSDA vet who has been caring for Macie since her operation said she was “extremely lucky to survive”.

Owner Irene Paisley, 46, from Glasgow, had lost her previous Staffie to cancer just two months earlier and feared the worst for puppy Macie.

She said: “Macie was making a squeaking sound – I thought she’d swallowed part of a toy. Then she was sick, but there was no sign of a toy, and she started choking.

“I was terrified. Poor Macie was still choking and, by the time we arrived at the vet’s, there was blood coming out of her nose. The loss of our previous dog was still very raw and the thought of losing Macie was devastating.”

X-ray image of knife inside MacieX-ray images showed the knife inside Macie’s intestines and gullet

The puppy underwent immediate emergency surgery at an out-of-hours vet service in Glasgow to remove the knife while Ms Paisley, her partner and four children waited at home for news.

PDSA vet Emily Ronald, said: “I’ve never seen an X-ray like Macie’s. She was extremely lucky to survive. Her saving grace was that she swallowed the handle-end first – the blade-end would undoubtedly have pierced her organs, likely causing fatal injuries.

“The morning after surgery, she was bouncing all over the place as if nothing had happened. Macie has been back for frequent check-ups over the past two weeks and we’re pleased she’s recovering and healing well.”

‘I couldn’t believe it’

Ms Paisley added: “I couldn’t believe it when they said Macie had swallowed a knife. I have no idea where she got hold of it – she could have pinched it out of the dishwasher, but no-one saw what happened. None of us could sleep that night as we knew Macie might not survive.”

She added: “Although she’s only young, Macie is already a big part of the family. She brings us so much joy and happiness, and means the world to the children. Without PDSA, she wouldn’t have received her life-saving treatment and wouldn’t be here today.”

PDSA provides free veterinary care to sick and injured pets of people in need and promotes responsible pet ownership.

Over the years, the charity’s vets have removed items including tent pegs, golf balls, radio aerials and rubber ducks during surgery on pets.

Article taken form: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-glasgow-west-38649586aggreko



Dog fights prompt 5,000 calls to RSPCA in past decade

Nearly 5,000 calls about organised dog fighting in England and Wales have been made to the RSPCA since 2006, according to figures released to the BBC.


The charity said there had been a total of 137 convictions in the same period.

The maximum sentence for offenders is six months in prison and/or an unlimited fine, but campaigners want it to be raised to up to three years.

Brian Wheelhouse, who runs a dog rescue centre, said offenders only cared about financial gain and not about the dog.

Eduardo Goncalves, chief executive of the League Against Cruel Sports, said: “Evidence from the UK and abroad points to the activity being a ‘gateway’ crime to serious and organised offences, such as drug and gun crime.

“In the United States dog fighting is recognised as a Grade A felony by the FBI.”

France applies a sentence of up to two years, and Germany and the Czech Republic apply a sentence of up to three years.

Mike Butcher, chief inspector of the RSCPA’s special operations unit, said: “The idea of a six-month sentence is a joke. The idea that you only serve half of what you get is even more of a joke.

“It’s no deterrent at all.”

The RSPCA said the highest number of calls it had received had been in Greater London (924), followed by the West Midlands (469), West Yorkshire (305) and Greater Manchester (238).

Rural counties are also affected, including the areas of Kent, Essex and Lancashire.

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) said there were “strict laws in place” to deal with people who were not properly looking after animals.

A spokesman said: “Anyone who is cruel to an animal or does not provide for its welfare needs may be banned from owning animals, given an unlimited fine or sent to prison.”

Campaigners including the League Against Cruel Sports, the RSPCA and the Dogs Trust, along with the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) have all called for tougher sentencing as a deterrent.

Deputy Chief Constable Gareth Pritchard, the NPCC’s lead for dangerous dogs, said “this kind of animal abuse” caused “untold distress and harm to the animals involved”.

Brian Wheelhouse with Benji
Brian Wheelhouse said Benji had sustained injuries around his face and neck

Brian Wheelhouse, of Whitehall Dog Rescue, Wakefield

We had a call from the dog compound. There was concern because this dog had obviously been used for dog fighting, or as dog bait, with the injuries it had sustained.

A dog that attacks another dog will go for the jugular vein – for the neck – so Benji has got injuries all around his neck, [and] around his face.

Dog fighting is done by individuals that are fighting them for financial gain.

They’re not bothered what happens to the dog at the end of the day as long as it wins.

They’re not bothered about the injuries because they’re not going to be taking it to the vets and having it treated.

They’ll leave it to heal up by itself. If the dog dies then so be it.

To inflict injuries and do horrible things on these poor creatures just beggar’s belief.

Kittens as bait

Last year, two kittens were found in Bradford with their fur coloured using marker pens.

It is thought they were to have been used as bait in a dog fight, where people would have bet on which one would have died first.

Coloured-in kitten
Kittens found in Bradford last year are thought to have been used as dog fighting bait

Katie Lloyd, Bradford Cat Watch Rescue

They came in through a police officer who’d been to a property and seized them.

We’d never seen anything quite like it before – one was coloured blue with a marker pen, and one was green.

Thankfully nothing terrible had happened before they came to us.

We believe that they may have been coloured in to be used for dog fighting.

It was horrendous and we were thinking those cats were probably minutes away from being ripped to shreds by dogs, and they were tiny.

We’re aware of other incidents where cats have been used as bait for dog fighting.

Article taken from:http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-38653726?intlink_from_url=http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/topics/14745d1f-885d-4b9f-b28a-24540e7beb15/animals&link_location=live-reporting-story


Fort William care home raises funds for dog William’s op

William, dog at Invernevis House

A rescued dog that provides companionship at a care home is to have a hip operation paid for by residents and staff.

William first arrived at Invernevis House in Fort William earlier this year.

He had previously been found neglected in Cyprus by a couple from Keith in Moray who were visiting the island.

Residents and staff at NHS Highland-run Invernevis House have raised £8,000 for the operation.

William, who is five, is set to have his operation in February.

However, he needs to be clear of an ongoing infection for at least a month before it can take place.

Invernevis House manager Kit Cameron said: “William is a huge favourite with the residents here and puts a smile on everyone’s face.

“However, it hasn’t always been a life full of love for William.”

Article taken from: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-highlands-islands-38396591